Promoting Community Health through Direct Engagement
How a MedStar Health ‘Task Force’ Rallies Local Stakeholders to Improve Health in Baltimore
Policies that change what we pay for in healthcare — a shift from service volume to improved health outcomes — offer clear incentives for health systems to more effectively manage the overall health of the populations they serve. In many cases, this provides an opportunity for hospitals and clinics to address the root causes of poor health — such as housing insecurity, substance abuse or lack of access to greenspace. While most health systems embrace this proactive approach, identifying the true health needs of a community and addressing those through cost-effective interventions can be daunting.
Examples of these incentives in action can be found in Maryland’s Total Cost of Care model. Launched in 2014, the program provides health systems with a global, population-based payment to cover all hospital services provided within a contract year. Performance-based incentive payments are also provided to non-hospital healthcare and primary care providers to improve the provision of care across the care continuum to support population health improvements. These significant changes push hospitals to manage healthcare spending by providing the right care in the right setting with necessary supports — and have encouraged hospitals to invest in community-based strategies to address the social determinants of health (SDoH).
This case study illustrates how three MedStar Health hospitals drive their population health agenda by engaging partners and individuals within the communities they serve. The health system’s Baltimore hospitals take this work a step further by establishing systems of accountability to ensure that resources are allocated to programs that address barriers to health that are of most concern to the community and include the community in their design.